Seaweed Soup (紫菜湯)

The best Cantonese seaweed soup recipe for all your cold day's needs!

Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
30 min
Yields
6 servings

A Recipe by Daddy Lau

My dad's been cooking Chinese food for over 50 years - as a kid fending for himself in Guangzhou, as the head chef of his own restaurant, and as a loving father in our home.

Hopefully, by learning this recipe, you'll get to experience some of the delicious joy we felt growing up eating his food!

- Randy

Seaweed Soup is an incredible Cantonese dish, not only because it's a staple of the cuisine and so good for your body, but also because of the way it can be easily adapted to include whatever ingredients are available.

My parents ate this a lot back in China, and we also ate it growing up. Each generation's seaweed soup may have had different ingredients and additions, but every iteration was still definitively, deliciously, heartwarmingly seaweed soup.

The versatility of this soup makes for a robust recipe, adaptable to whatever is local and available to you. I'm excited for you to make it your own!

Check out a quick story summary of our recipe!

Ingredients

Weight: US
oz
g
Volume: US
cup
mL
Servings
6
    Main Ingredients
  • 0.50 oz dried seaweed
  • 0.50 oz dried shrimp
  • 2 egg
  • 6 oz napa cabbage
  • 5 oz pork
  • Pork Marinade
  • 0.50 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp water
  • Soup Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp oil (

    Specifically for stir-frying.

    )
  • 14 oz chicken broth
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 0.50 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp fish sauce (

    Can use light soy sauce instead if fish sauce is not available.

    )
  • 1 dash white pepper

Seaweed: super snack, super soup

I bet you've seen the fantastic variety of dried seaweed snacks line the snack aisle: roasted, salted, wasabi, teriyaki, even kimchi-flavored. Popular as they are, these tasty snacks are all basically the same kind of seaweed with different flavors.

But there are so many more kinds! These are some of the soup-making seaweeds that deliver to you vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids:

Kombu is a category of heavy kelp that's the key ingredient in Japanese soup bases, or dashi. There are over ten types of kombu, and they all look and taste different!

Wakame, or miyeok in Korean, is another kind of seaweed that's used to make soup. Korean seaweed soup, miyeokguk, is traditionally eaten after childbirth and on birthdays.

The seaweed we're using for Cantonese Seaweed Soup resembles snacking seaweed in that it's thin rather than kelp-like, but instead of pressed into thin sheets, it's dried into loose cakes that you can tear or cut through very easily.

Build your own soup

My dad likes to add napa cabbage to build more complex and layered flavors in the soup. You can try other leafy vegetables too, like bok choy.

Tofu is a really popular addition. You can cube it and add it a bit after the pork.

Or, experiment with any kinds of proteins you have on hand. How wonderfully thematic would it be to have a seafood protein like fresh shrimp in your seaweed soup?

Our recipe uses fish sauce for seasoning. If you would rather not use fish sauce, or can't find it, you can use light soy sauce, or skip it altogether.

The answer to "yeet hay"

Do your parents blame chips, pizza, and fried foods for the pimples on your face?

In traditional Chinese culture, it’s believed that foods have two energies - yin, or cold, and yang, or hot. It doesn't correlate with the temperature of the food, but factors like when and where the food naturally grows or how it's prepared.

For example, radishes are yin/cold, even if they're freshly steamed and piping hot. Lychees are yang/hot, even if they're straight from the freezer. Carrots are neutral and don't lean heavily in either direction.

How about a doozy? American-grown ginseng is yin/cold, but Korean-grown ginseng is yang/hot.

When we consume too much of one type, our bodies become imbalanced, and Chinese tradition points to this imbalance as the root cause for symptoms like pimples.

Yeet hay, or "heaty", describes both the foods and symptoms we feel when we’ve consumed too much yang energy, and a common remedy is something like leung cha (Chinese herbal tea) or something like Seaweed Soup.

Start by rinsing the dried seaweed (0.50 oz). These days, dried seaweed tends to be very clean, but if your seaweed has a lot of sand and residue, that will come off with a few more rinses, and will sink to the bottom during the soak.

Then we need to soak the seaweed for around 10 minutes. It's fine if it ends up sitting in the water for longer than that, because it'll be cooking in a big pot of soup anyway.

Wash the dried shrimp (0.50 oz) twice to make sure they're clean, and rehydrate them by soaking in a small bowl of hot water for 5 minutes.

Crack the eggs (2) into a bowl so they'll be ready for later.

We'll cut the napa cabbage (6 oz) into manageable bites. Make two length-wise cuts, and then chop into pieces about 1-2 inches wide. The stem pieces should be smaller than the leafy pieces to account for cooking time.

You can slice the lean pork (5 oz) into any shape you like. For this recipe, we're cutting it into strips by slicing first, and then laying them down to cut strips. Besides strips, you can also do big slices or even mince the pork.

Put the pork in a bowl.

Then, we'll make the marinade for the pork with salt (0.50 tsp), cornstarch (1 tsp), and water (1 tbsp). A handy technique is to mix the marinade ingredients to the side of the bowl that the pork's in, smoothing out any clumps there, and then stirring it into the pork.

This way, the marinade is smooth and easy to incorporate, and you don't have a separate marinade-making dish to clean later!

With a soup pot on the stove, turn the heat on high. Add oil (1 tbsp) to the pot. It should heat up rather quickly.

Put the rehydrated dried shrimp in, making sure to save the soaking liquid, and cook for 50-60 seconds. The shrimp flavor will bloom and flavor the oil, and you'll be able to smell it.

Add chicken broth (14 oz) to the pot of soup, as well as the shrimp soaking liquid that we saved earlier. The liquid will add an extra little layer of shrimp flavor to the soup. Then add water (6 cups) and put the lid on the pot.

When the soup comes to a boil, remove the lid, and add the napa cabbage. Place the lid back on, and continue to cook on high heat. We need to wait for the soup to come back to a boil, which should take about 1.5 minutes.

Once the soup is boiling again, remove the lid, drain the rehydrated seaweed, and add it to the soup.

Add the marinated pork as well. Make sure to stir as the pork goes in, so that they cook evenly without sticking together.

We're going to add the eggs next, but to make sure the soup doesn't boil over while we're working, turn the heat down to medium.

Beat the eggs, and slowly pour the beaten eggs in while stirring the soup to create smooth wisps of silky egg. Then, turn the heat back up to high.

It's time to season the soup. Start with salt (1 tsp). It's not a lot, but you can always add more salt at the end if it's needed. Then add sesame oil (0.50 tsp), fish sauce (1 tsp), and white pepper (1 dash).

Finally, taste to adjust the flavors of the soup to your liking! This is usually served in a large serving bowl at the center of the table. Everyone can take the amount they want in smaller individual bowls.

Summary

Seaweed Soup (紫菜湯)
The best Cantonese seaweed soup recipe for all your cold day's needs!
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Total Time: 30 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
    Main Ingredients
  • 0.50 oz dried seaweed
  • 0.50 oz dried shrimp
  • 2 egg
  • 6 oz napa cabbage
  • 5 oz pork
  • Pork Marinade
  • 0.50 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp water
  • Soup Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp oil (

    Specifically for stir-frying.

    )
  • 14 oz chicken broth
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 0.50 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp fish sauce (

    Can use light soy sauce instead if fish sauce is not available.

    )
  • 1 dash white pepper
Step 1 - Prepare dried ingredients↑ Jump to details

Rinse the dried seaweed (0.50 oz) and soak for 10 minutes.

Wash the dried shrimp (0.50 oz) twice, and soak in a small bowl of hot water for 5 minutes.

Step 2 - Prepare eggs & cabbage↑ Jump to details

Crack the eggs (2) into a bowl.

Cut the napa cabbage (6 oz) into pieces about 1-2 inches wide, with slightly smaller stem pieces and slightly larger leafy pieces to account for cooking time.

Step 3 - Cut & marinate pork↑ Jump to details

Cut the lean pork (5 oz) into your preferred shape: slices, strips, or minced.

Make the marinade for the pork with salt (0.50 tsp), cornstarch, and water (1 tbsp), and mix it into the pork.

Step 4 - Stir-fry dried shrimp↑ Jump to details

With a soup pot on the stove, turn the heat on high. Add oil (1 tbsp) to the pot.

Put the rehydrated dried shrimp in, making sure to save the soaking liquid, and cook for 50-60 seconds.

Step 5 - Add chicken broth & water↑ Jump to details

Add chicken broth (14 oz) and the shrimp soaking liquid to the pot of soup. Then add water (6 cups) and put the lid on the pot.

Step 6 - Add ingredients to soup↑ Jump to details

When the soup comes to a boil, add the napa cabbage. Place the lid back on, and continue to cook on high heat until the soup comes back up to boil.

Then, drain the rehydrated seaweed, and add it to the soup.

Add the marinated pork as well, stirring to ensure separation and even cooking.

Turn the heat down to medium, and beat the eggs. Slowly pour the beaten eggs in while stirring the soup. Then, turn the heat back up to high.

Step 7 - Add final seasonings↑ Jump to details

Season with salt (1 tsp), sesame oil (0.50 tsp), fish sauce (1 tsp), and white pepper (1 dash).

Step 8 - Taste test & plate↑ Jump to details

Give it a taste test and adjust the seasoning to your liking! This is usually served in a large serving bowl and everyone can take the amount they want.

Step 9 - Take pictures
Whip out your camera (1). Begin taking photos (1,000,000). Pick your favorites!
Step 10 - Share and tag us on Instagram @madewithlau #madewithlau!
Did you have fun making this recipe? We'd love to see & hear about it. (Especially my dad. He would be THRILLED!)

Enjoy!

We have many, many happy memories of enjoying this dish growing up.

Now, hopefully, you can create your own memories with this dish with your loved ones.

Also, I cordially invite you to eat with us and learn more about the dish, Chinese culture, and my family.

Cheers, and thanks for cooking with us!

Feel free to comment below if you have any questions about the recipe.